Our friends Pallavi and Ash just got back from a three-week trip to visit family in India. As soon as I heard they were back, I wanted to set a date to meet as soon as possible because there were about 20 times over the holidays when I wished they had been around. I proposed meeting at a Thai restaurant for a casual dinner (for whatever reason Thai falls into my current dietary restrictions, mostly). They proposed cooking Indian for us at their home and to make dishes that matched the Candida Diet. How nice is that?! Certainly an invitation we could not refuse.
Our friends had just been granted their US citizenship (a ten-year process), so J and I put together a basket of iconic American food offerings for them: Twinkies, Kraft Mac n Cheese, Spam, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, Rice R Roni, M&Ms, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Velveeta, Lay’s Potato Chips (Original flavor), Mickey Mouse stickers, JELLO, Coke and Budweiser (yes, we know it’s no longer American owned). Ah, doesn’t it make you proud? We appropriately topped it with a Congratulations card of – what else – an American Flag.
Saturday night we took our Americana basket and headed over for “game night” (Pallavi had been dying to play Clue as she never had played before) and a “casual home cooked” Indian dinner. Casual? Hah! More like an Indian feast!
The basket was a huge success and after expressing our “horror” that Ash had never had Velveeta or Spam, the evening got started with Onion Pakoras and Veggie Samosas – not quite diet appropriate due to the use of breadcrumbs and phyllo. I cheated anyway and ate way, way to many of both as we settled in for and played Clue. But really, how can anyone resist crispy, spicy onion pakoras?
After Clue, it was feast time. Pallavi and Ash went all out: Paneer Sabzi, Chicken Curry, Gobi, Raita and of course, rice and roti. To say it was all incredibly good is a massive understatement. The Paneer Sabzi had that sinus clearing spice that J seeks out in Indian food. The raita was a perfect cooling accompaniment. The chicken was tender and moist with a kick of spice and a nice heat. The Gobi (cauliflower) was tender crisp.
We followed dinner with “Indian Tea” as Pallavi calls it – Ceylon tea, milk and 2 packets of Splenda (this is the only time I use artificial sweeteners) – and Cranium. Cranium was hilarious – none of us could get the “Humdingers” (hum that tune and hope your partner can guess it – which is incredibly difficult if you are the designated tunemaster and you don’t know the tune) and our charades attempts were pretty poor.
Next up, more Indian Tea for me and Kulfi (Indian ice cream) for everyone else and then Apples to Apples. We ended up playing 2 rounds, well past midnight and then called it a night with promises of future rematches – but next time we’ll be cooking. Velveeta and Spam sandwiches on Wonder Bread anyone? 😉
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